Monday, November 27, 2017

Green Day Insomniac (1995) Review

Green Day "Insomniac" (1995) LP Cover
The year was 1995, and the sophomore record from Green Day was getting a lot of buzz. At this point everyone had the first record that they put out on Reprise Records. They had put out “Dookie” in 1994, and I didn’t get that record. In fact, my parents wouldn’t buy it for me, but they did buy it for my sister’s cousin. He got “Dookie”, and I couldn’t listen to music because it was evil. Too bad, because I saved up all my pennies and would eventually pick up a copy of the first record on cassette. But a few months later I would pick up Blink-182’s “Dude Ranch” and this sophomore record from Green Day, “Insomniac”.

A Much Harder Record

“Insomniac” came out in October, 1995. Before the record was released, they put out a 7” vinyl and music video for the song “Geek Stink Breath”, and I was immediately in love with the harder sound that the band was working with. The band came out swinging, especially after being told that they were too soft to be punk from their first release. Well, this one is not the first one, and while they are melodic in their approach, this is a hard hitting punk rock record on every front. From the opening track “Armitage Shanks”, to “Stuck With Me”, the band’s opening songs are harder, and faster than nearly every track on their first few records.

Melody and Speed With The Green Day Touch

Now, the music is fast, it’s hard, and it sounds well produced, as you would expect from the band’s catalog. However, they get into a different mode of heavy music throughout. Some of the hardest tracks of their career show up on “Insomniac”. Songs like “Geek Stink Breath”, “Bab’s Uvula Who?”, “Panic Song”, “Jaded”, and “Tight Wad Hill” are so strong and heavy, that you’re going to swear it’s not really Green Day, but someone else that has taken over the band’s push forward. The band really put an effort into sounding heavier, and it shows, with a lot more emphasis on bass guitar work, drums, and harder sounding distorted guitar work.

A Disappointing Sales Record

“Dookie” sold a lot of records. More than this one by a long shot. In fact, this sophomore release only sold 2 million some odd records in the first week or so. That’s a long way away from the 10 million or so that their first record seemed to have received. That’s not a bad number, but the critics weren’t so nice to the band, because they weren’t “evolving” fast enough. They are idiots, because this is a record that was sonically better, harder, and faster than their other releases. Rob Cavallo’s production and overall mixing was quite good, and the band’s lyrical assault was better, making this a much more mature record in my view. It’s a stellar effort for the band, and one that has so much power through the lyrics, the drums, and bass guitars. If there’s a downside it’s Billy Joe’s simplistic guitar work at times, but he makes up for it with solos, and other elements that lead to a better overall vocal pattern. You can see these guys going all out in the studio, putting on a show while throwing down track after track. Amidst my hardest punk rock records, this was one that focused more on speed, and deep sounding treble and bass than say, Blink-182’s “Dude Ranch” did at the time. This was a heavy record, compared to others, in the same pop punk genre, at least in the mid 1990s.

I give Green Day “Insomniac” a 4 out of 5.

Green Day put on a show with this record. They proved that they can be just as hard as their peers, and still maintain a sense of melody throughout their record. I found the tracks to be stellar, and definitely on par with some of the best work that they have put on. The band was able to do a lot with this record, and the videos show a great overall tone. Oh, and the poster that the cover turns into is amazing, giving it a raw punk edge, and much more. From lyrics, to overall sound design, this is a clever, hard, and fast 32 minutes of punk rock that needs another listen if you ask me.

You can buy Green Day’s “Insomniac”, stream it, or whatever it is you kids do by clicking here, and enjoying the punk rock tunes of Billy Joe, Tre Cool, and Mike Dirnt.

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